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Confessions of a superfood junkie

 I’m a sucker for powders and potions that promise to change my life 

If you tell me it’s going to make me look forever 21, reverse all my health conundrums, turn me into Rapunzel, diminish every last trace of cellulite and give me the power to fly – I’ll most probably believe you. Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with incorporating superfoods into our diet, as the name suggests, they are in actual fact ‘food’ – they’re just somehow … well … super?

So what exactly is a superfood?

Experience has taught me that if it’s liquidised, dehydrated, extracted or ground up by ethical, gluten-free vegans, with untamed rustic beards in a remote village that gives back into a local community (while sipping on Kombucha) – it’s quite possibly a superfood.

Superfood pronunciation for dummies

Another sure-fire sign you’re in the presence of a superfood, is if you need to revert back to kindergarten to read the label.

Quinoa = keen-wah
Açaí = a-sigh-ee
Cacao = kack-ow
Goji = go-gee
Raw sprouted ancient grains = bread (even I’m not convinced of this one)

I knew I had a problem when …

Amidst my superfood love affair, I arrived home from work famished, only to discover that I had no actual ‘food’ in my house. By food I mean, something I could eat without concocting a green smoothie. Chew, if you will. As a plethora of powders and potions stared back at me, I was engulfed by the aroma of pungent botanicals. On the real, I was punched in the face by the smell of what seemed to be fermenting herbs and spices (reminiscent of my sweaty sock pile) – then I nearly vomed.

Still keeping the faith, I moved to the fridge, in the hopes that somewhere throughout my health store travels, I had the sense to purchase real food … I wound up eating a vegan protein shake with a side of probiotics for dinner.

Epic. Culinary. Fail.

I realised I needed to revise my shopping habits, and perhaps swap out a few superfoods for just … well … food. Actual food. To propel me through my superfood crisis I enlisted the help of an expert: Bodypass nutritionist, Rachael Javes, to guide my superfood synopsis.

Gubinge powder VS fresh fruit

gubinge

I had not one – but two unopened tubs of this super-powder in my pantry. Loving Earth tell me that their wild crafted  Gubinge Powder (Kakadu Plum) from the Kimberleys in Western Australia is the “highest natural source of Vitamin C on the planet, and that’s been verified.” Impressive? Absolutely! On the flip side, if you prefer to chew, fresh fruit packs a decent Vitamin C punch also.

Rachael says: “Gubinge Powder, aka the Kakadu Plum, has one of the largest concentrations of Vitamin C around. It is a great way of boosting your Vitamin C intake in your morning smoothie. Just remember though, a cup of red capsicum in your lunchtime salad or some guava in your chia pudding, will deliver a greater amount of Vitamin C than one serving of Gubinge Powder.”

Açaí powder/frozen packs vs fresh/frozen blueberries

acai

You can get it in organic freeze-dried powder form, frozen smoothie packs for ultimate convenience, or delivered right to your door by a local Amazonian village man (or at least to your table by your local hipster café entrepreneur). I’m talking about the Brazilian berry, Açaí, one of the first superfoods to take the health-nutter’s world (including mine) by storm.

There’s no disputing that Açaí bowls are delish, healthy and let’s not forget oh-so-hip, but so is chowing down on a punnet of fresh blueberries. With both these purple wonders considered antioxidant and nutritional powerhouses, I must say the thought of holding an actual real life berry has me somewhat intrigued.

Rachael says: “Being the wife of a Brazilian, Açaí is a staple foodstuff in my freezer. It has many health properties, but not all Açaí’s are the same. The powder is great if you are making your own smoothie; however, when buying it at a café, remember to ensure the accompanying ingredients are also healthy.”

Green powders vs fresh and leafy greens

greens

While historically I’ve been a huge fan of green powders (note the junkie title in the headline, ahem), usually containing a mix of ingredients like spirulina, alfalfa, wheat grass, barley grass and a dash of Tinkerbell’s fairy dust, I reached the point where the taste of green powder of any sort was making me gag. It didn’t matter how many mangos or bananas I threw in my Vitamix, my once superfood-friendly palate just couldn’t deal.

After overdoing it with one Hulk-worthy smoothie too many, I’m now opting for more fresh greens to throw in the mix. I like the refreshing taste, and they’re yet to give me a gag reflex.

Cucumber: B Vitamins (except B12), Vitamin C, Silica, Zinc, Iron, Folic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium
Spinach: Vitamins A, B2, C and K, Magnesium, Manganese, Folate, Iron, Calcium and Potassium
Mint: Menthol (natural decongestant), aids digestion
Celery: Vitamins K, C and B6, Potassium and Folate

Rachael says: “Green powders can be great, but always opt for the wholefood variety when you can. Don’t substitute your servings of green veggies for a powdered version, simply boost it with the powders.”

Activated nuts and seeds vs regular ol’ nuts and seeds

almonds

Activated: meaning soaked in water – not launched in a spaceship to the moon. This process makes it much easier for your body to digest, while releasing your li’l nuts nutritional goodness.

The bummer here is the cost difference, as activated nuts are considerably pricey. If you can be bothered and have a dehydrator, you can soak your nuts yourself. This will save your wallet, and your digestion.

Although the jury is apparently out on this one, I still personally choose to savour my nutrients and soak my nuts. As a bonus, I also think they taste much better.

Rachael says: the argument for activating your nuts, seeds and grains is related to the absorption of nutrients by breaking down phytates. Those pro-activating suggest that by activating, you are able to absorb nutrients more effectively and put less pressure on your digestive system. However, there is little scientific research to support these claims. Some recent research even shows that phytates can be beneficial to health. So, should you activate? Activate your nuts when you get the chance, but don’t shy away from a good old un-activated almond.

What’s the superfood verdict?

I won’t argue that the health ratings for many deemed superfoods are in fact super high, but with whole foods you’re also getting essential fibre and water, and let’s not forget the ability to use a knife, fork and spoon instead of a straw in most cases.
If the convenience of incorporating super powders with super powers ticks your convenience box, then do your superfood thang.

On the other hand, if you fancy peeling a banana instead of decanting powder into a jar, then whole foods may be more your vibe.

Having recently discovered a new word in the dictionary: BALANCE, I’ve realised a healthy mix of the two work a treat (rocket science, I know). If your kitchen contains wholefoods in addition to your powders and potions, and you still remember what an apple looks and tastes like – you should be safe from entering a superfood psychosis!

Rachael says: go the superfoods, but don’t eat them over the wholefood variety – use them to boost your nutrient intake, not be the sole source. Be aware that marketers are clever, so do your own research before shelling out a fortune on the latest craze.

Bianca Mauceri

About the person who wrote this

Bianca Mauceri

Beauty and health writer, superfood lover, self-confessed health trend junkie and internationally acclaimed Zumba queen.

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